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Face-off in China

By Femi Fani-Kayode

The other day I posted a copy of the now famous picture of President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin where they both coldly looked into one another’s eyes without the trace of a smile.

US President Barack Obama speaks at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 28, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT
US President Barack Obama 

They looked like two hardened prize fighters in their prime that were summoned into the middle of the boxing ring by the referee, for the usual short pep talk, just before he shouts “seconds out” and sends everyone, apart from the two boxers themselves, out of the ring.

The encounter took place in Hangzhou, China during the G20 meeting. As they say a picture is worth more than one thousand words but this particular one is worth more than ten thousand because it told the whole story.

Such was its visual power and vivid expression that CNN, Al Jazeera, Fox News, the BBC and numerous other international television networks kept airing it and it was strewn all over the internet and social media.

After posting it on my Facebook wall I wrote a short caption just above the picture which reads as follows:

“It looks as if Barack Obama has finally met someone that is stronger and better and that is prepared to face him down. This is what you call an ‘eyeball to eyeball’ encounter or a good old fashioned ‘squaring off’. Thank God for Vladimer Putin”.

These words and the picture itself sparked off a spirited and interesting debate on my Facebook wall which involved people that were residing in many countries all over the world including the United Kingdom, Finland, the United States, India, Dubai and China.

The topic of discussion was Obama. I was particularly impressed with the contribution of two distinguished individuals and I will share their contributions in this essay together with my response to one of them.

The first was my old school friend and brother Mr. Joe Thorn. Mr. Thorn is an Englishman who has lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the the United States of America for many years.

He served us with an extraordinary and factual analysis of Obama’s performance, or rather lack of it, over the last years when it came to the fortunes and economic welfare of the African American population in America.

Relying very much on the excellent research that was done by the respected Mr. Larry Elder and armed with facts and figures which few could dismiss, Mr. Thorn successfully put the case against Obama in an effective and clinical manner. Hear him:

“What about poverty? In 2009, when Obama took office, the black poverty rate was 25.8 percent. As of 2014, according to Pew Research Center, the black poverty rate was 27.2 percent.

What about income? CNNMoney says, ‘Minority households’ median income fell 9 percent between 2010 and 2013, compared to a drop of only 1 percent for whites.’

The Financial Times wrote last October: ‘Since 2009, median non-white household income has dropped by almost a 10th to $33,000 a year, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s survey of consumer finances.

As a whole, median incomes fell by 5 percent. But by the more telling measure of net wealth — assets minus liabilities — the numbers offer a more troubling story.’

What about net worth and the black-white ‘wealth gap’? The Financial Times said: ‘The median non-white family today has a net worth of just $18,100 — almost a fifth lower than it was when Mr. Obama took office.

White median wealth, on the other hand, has inched up by 1 percent to $142,000. In 2009, white households were seven times richer than their black counterparts.

That gap is now eightfold. Both in relative and absolute terms, blacks are doing worse under Mr. Obama.’ Remember, these numbers apply to all ‘non-whites’. For blacks, it’s worse.

When looking only at ‘black net worth’ — which is lower compared to non-whites as a whole — white households are actually 13 times wealthier than black households.

From 2010 to 2013, according to the Federal Reserve, ‘white household median wealth increased a modest 2.4 percent, while Hispanic families’ wealth declined 14 percent, to $13,700.

But blacks’ net worth fell from $16,600 to $11,000. This is an astonishing three-year drop of 34 percent.

Investors Business Daily put it this way, ‘That’s a steeper decline than occurred from 2007 to 2010, when blacks’ net worth fell 13.5 percent.’ The black/white “wealth-gap” has reached a 25-year high.

What about unemployment? In 2009, black unemployment was 12.7 percent, and by 2014, it had fallen to 10.1 percent.

This sounds like good news until one examines the black labor force participation rate — the percentage of blacks working or seeking work. It’s the lowest since these numbers have been recorded”.

Mr. Thorn’s contribution was very effective and he opened the eyes of those that erroneously assumed that Obama had been a blessing to members of his own black American community over the last seven years. How wrong they were.

Having attended one of the best private schools in England before going to one of the best universities, Mr. Thorn certainly knows how to do his research, marshal his points and fight his corner.

Yet perhaps the most damning analysis of all came from my brother, Mr. Victor Oladokun, who is another old friend and a leading light in the Christian community both in the United States of America and Nigeria.

If Mr. Thorns’ analysis was clinical, Mr. Oladokun’s can best be described as precise, ruthless and devastating. Permit me to share it here. He wrote as follows:

“We warned all of those who voted for Obama on sentimental grounds simply because he was black. The bottom line is that he has been an unmitigated disaster on multiple levels –

1. Support of radical Islamist militants to remove Gadaffi and Assad. Libya and Syria have descended into an absolute mess. Thanks to Putin and Russia, American supported Islamists would also have overthrown Assad and thrown the minority Christian community there into jeopardy.

2. The complete naïveté of Obama and Hilary Clinton’s Middle Eastern policy is incredulous. For personal reasons he has turned Israel, America’s most stable ally in the region, into a pariah.

3. Obama’s misplaced audacity during his visit earlier this year to Africa was alarming. He had the effrontery to lecture  among others Uhuru Kenyatta on the need to legalize and recognize Gay relationships.

At a time when Africa has more pressing issues to contend with such as economic and infrastructural development, trade and investment, this was unprecedented political arrogance and a waste of American taxpayers deserved better on that trip.

4. For a Black President from whom so much was expected, his refusal to visit Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and democracy, is an enormous lost opportunity.

For all the hate and vitriol spewed at George W. Bush by Nigerians, he did 100 times more for Africa than Obama has.

5. Obama will be judged for his unrelenting and aggressive push of late term abortions and public funding of same through Planned Parenthood, an organization President Bush had previously defunded.

For these and other reasons, I will be glad to see Obama fade into political oblivion come November”.

Ouch! These are harsh words from a respected,  temperate and patient gentleman whose opinion is taken very seriously by many.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.